England has been buzzing about the Olympics ever since we arrived. This past Friday was the big day: The Opening Ceremonies. I’m not going to go into how odd I thought the opening ceremonies turned out. I think that only actual British people could appreciate it.
Anyway, we celebrated the opening ceremonies by competing in an olympic sport that I have not yet seen televised on the BBC: Beer Drinking. Each team at the party was to dress up in colors from their homeland and compete in various beer related events. The main events were beer pong, quarters (actually played with 10p coins), and flip cup.
Me and Tara made our way through the beer pong bracket and emerged victorious. Along the way we knocked off countries such as Sweden, Germany, England, Canada, and even some fellow Americans. To get an idea of the different nationalities competing, here is a picture of the flip cup scoreboard.
Check out the Swede/American combo team of Matt and Charlie. If there was a medal for style, they would have won at least bronze.
Saturday was slightly more tame. We made our way down to Newton-Solney to hang out with Jeff and Sarah. After Trevor (their 8 year old son) beat me in badminton we headed to a local beer festival…. which happened to be a kid friendly event.
That night, we went to an authentic Scottish Ceilidh, which is basically the Scottish equivalent of an American Hoe Down. Tara’s friend Alex celebrated her 30th birthday by throwing a huge Scottish party. There was a live band and a caller, who walked everyone through how to do all these traditional Scottish dances. I’m a very slow learner when it comes to dancing, but these weren’t that hard to learn, and pretty fun. It was a great way to get to know everyone at the party.
Now, it’s time for the main event……. Our trip to London to see the best olympic sport there is: Beach Volleyball
Quick side note: A few weeks ago, I got an email from Chase/Visa telling me about a VIP lounge in London that was setup for Americans during the Olympics. The email claimed that this lounge would offer free alcohol and snacks and that I was eligible to partake in the VIP lounge offerings with up to 5 guests. I thought it sounded too good to be true, but the lounge was right next to the volleyball stadium, so we decided to check it out since we had a few hours to kill before the match started.
Back to the recap: We took the train from Derby to London. When we got off the train in London we were immediately greeted with free ice cream. Now that is some olympic hospitality!
After the ice cream, we made our way to the supposed VIP lounge. The streets of London were looking really nice with all of the Olympics decoration.
We found the address where the lounge was supposed to be located and it looked very unassuming; like any other building. I cautiously/skeptically approached the door man and told him we were here for the Visa VIP lounge. To my surprise, he responded with, “Right this way Sir”. And we were IN. This place turned out to be AMAZING.
There was a fully stocked bar, lots of finger foods, and it was all completely free. There were about 10 HD TVs around us that were all playing various olympic broadcasts.
The best part about this lounge, as if it could get any better, was that 100% of it’s patrons were Americans! Since you had to have a Chase credit card to come in, that meant that no British people could get in unless they were a guest of an American with the card. It’s not like I dislike Brits or anything, but it was an amazing atmosphere. Everyone in the room was instantly friends because everyone was an American in an unfamiliar place. Everyone was really friendly. Most conversations went something like this:
“Oh, you’re from Nebraska, I’m from Ohio. We’re like neighbors. Let’s get a free beer!”
For about 2.5 hours, there was no mention of car boots, queues, chips, crisps, or lorries. It was really awesome. We even ran into Chelsea and Mike here.
Eventually the time came for volleyball and we had to leave this awesome place. We strolled a few blocks and made our way into the Horse Parade Grounds, which is where the volleyball was located. It was also a really nice venue.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was really high energy. There was a DJ that played good music in between every point and really got the crowd involved. The scenery was great too. Check out our view.
Tara’s view was not so great once the match started. Here’s her perspective.
The men played first: Latvia vs. Germany. Here are some pictures.
Anytime there were breaks in the action, this group of dancers would come out and keep everyone entertained.
The German men ended up winning the match. Next up was the women: Brazil vs. Czech Republic. I was really excited.
Here are a bunch of action shots from the women’s match.
In the end, the Czech Republic beat Brazil. Next up was the Americans, but unfortunately we didn’t have those tickets. We left the stadium and went searching for food. We tried about 5 different pubs and restaurants and they were all completely packed. Standing room only. Then we found this Russian nightclub that also happened to be a restaurant. Check out our rotating table.
The table actually did rotate. It was pretty cool. About every 5 minutes you would realize that your view had changed. The food was good and the staff told us we should come back at 11:00 when the nightclub partying starts. Our train left at midnight so we didn’t have time to get the full on Russian nightclub experience.
We did have a few hours to kill before we caught out train so we decided to head back to the American Oasis aka the Visa VIP Lounge. When we arrived, we noticed there was some extra special VIP dinner going on for people with special placards. I decided to try my luck and ask the people at the door if we could join the fun. To my surprise, the lady at the door scribbled something on a special pass and ushered us in.
Inside, there was a special ‘culinary experience’ that was put on by Chef Morimoto. I wasn’t sure who he was so I googled him. He is the star of the TV show Iron Chef and has a bunch of famous restaurants. The food was great. They had fresh sushi, prime rib, chicken wings, salad, steak, lamb chops, and some other side dishes. They were also serving some fancy wines that looked more expensive than the stuff they were serving to the regular VIPs earlier in the day. We had literally just come from dinner and I was not hungry, but there was no way I could turn down all this free delicious food. Here’s an action shot of us wolfing it down.
Not too long after that, we had to leave to catch our train back to Derby. All in all, it was an amazing trip to the Olympics. Before we got onto our train back to Derby, the Olympic people gave us a free bag of stuff: water, chocolate, and a few other things. Not a bad way to top off our VIP trip to the Olympics.